During the Taliban, Afghan women were banned from working outside their homes. Even though bakeries were an exception to the ban, many of the women bakers were widows supporting their families and were often subjected to arrest and beatings. One Kabul bakery, although financially self-sufficient, relies on coalition aid and U.S. wheat to provide jobs for women. Here, the women bake more than two thousand loaves a day to feed one-quarter of Kabuls population.
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For women in Afghanistan, the Taliban years were a time of deprivation and second-class status. Most of them were banned from working outside the home. This was particularly hard on the widows of over 20 years of war.
There are an estimated 50,000 war widows in Kabul alone who need to work in order to support their children.
The U.S. is working with the World Food Program to provide women with the means to earn a living and to help feed a quarter of Kabuls population.
This bakery in a west Kabul neighborhood is back to providing women with a reliable income. Under the Taliban, the widows bakeries were usually permitted to operate. Still, there were arbitrary arrests and beatings of women working here, and bakeries were shut down at whim.
From 4 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, these women bake well over 2,000 loaves of bread a day. This bakery is one of 21 such businesses supported by coalition aid, and there are more planned for construction.
The women working here still count on American wheat, but the bakery is financially already self-sufficient.